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Carrying guns is now allowed on public busses in Missoula

 Mountain Line buses at a transit center in Missoula.
Josh Burnham
Mountain Line buses at a transit center in Missoula.

Missoula’s public bus service is loosening restrictions on riders carrying firearms after Second Amendment advocates threatened a lawsuit over the policy. The change goes into effect Oct. 1.

Mountain Line spokesperson Olga Kreimer said the organization did not make the decision to roll back its weapons ban lightly. She said the service’s leadership thought being “dragged into a lawsuit” would not be in the best interest of riders.

“We’re making a change in the most straightforward, safe and responsible way we can to comply with the policy and avoid that litigation,” Kreimer said.

The threat of legal action by the Montana Shooting Sports Association prompted the change. Organization President Gary Marbut said he sent a letter to Mountain Line in February demanding the organization repeal its gun restrictions.

Marbut told MTPR he’s pleased with the decision to comply, and said he’s not concerned that some may now feel less safe riding the bus in Missoula.

“I think those fears are by and large irrational and it’s not my job to deal with irrationality,” Marbut said in a phone interview.

Kreimer said most riders will likely not notice a day-to-day change, and that Mountain Line’s rules against dangerous or threatening behavior will still be enforced.

Gov. Greg Gianforte in May signed a new law that makes it harder for local governments in Montana to restrict Second Amendment rights. Marbut advocated for that law, which also grants attorneys fees to anyone who wins a lawsuit over illegal firearm restrictions.

Marbut said his organization is looking into similar policies in other Montana communities, including Billings. That city’s bus system currently prohibits all weapons onboard, including guns, according to its website.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

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